“Monopoly Millionaires’ Club” comes to TV – but not in Chicago?

Billy Gardell to host "Monopoly Millionaires' Club". (philly.com)
Billy Gardell to host “Monopoly Millionaires’ Club”. (philly.com)

Illinois residents may not be able to join the Monopoly Millionaires’ Club 

A new Monopoly-themed TV show is coming to a market near you this winter.

But if you live in Chicago or in the state of Illinois, you are likely frozen out of the cold.

A new syndicated game show titled Monopoly Millionaires’ Club is scheduled to debut in midseason – February 2015, which is quite unusual, given most first-run syndicated programs debut in either September or October in recent years.

Another unusual thing about this show is this game show is not being stripped, i.e. airing five or more days a week, but is airing as a weekend hour-long offering – airing in prime access or in primetime.

The show is being produced in junction with several state lotteries across the station, with a few of them offering the game starting on October 19 and then expanding throughout the country in the next few months. To have a chance to get on the show, you must buy a Monopoly Millionaire Club ticket from your state lottery agent. If selected, the person wins a trip for two to sit in the studio audience for a chance to be chosen to play several Monopoly-related games on stage. Up to $2.5 million is up for grabs in every episode (of course, if you buy a ticket and win a lot of money, then the hell with the TV show.)

That is, if you can buy a ticket. The state of Illinois has decided not to participate in the national game at this time, fearing it would cut into the sales of existing games according to the Springfield State-Journal. The decision was actually made by Northfield Lottery Group, whose contract to run the state lottery was canceled back in August. It could be a while for a Monopoly Millionaire Club game to appear in the Land Of Lincoln.

But if you’re lucky enough to live near Indiana (like yours truly does), you can buy a Monopoly ticket. The Hoosier Lottery is one of 22 state lotteries participating and is launching the game on October 19. Thirteen others, including Wisconsin, are considering joining the fun for 2015.

The lottery is being run by Scientific Games and the sales effort is being spearheaded by syndication sales veteran Barry Wallach, who worked at Genesis Entertainment and NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution.

Monopoly has cleared “95% of U.S. lottery TV Homes”, including stations belonging to the Tribune, CBS, Sinclair, Graham, and LIN/Media General station groups. Is it not known if Chicago is included in the mix with Illinois not participating, but the Northwest Indiana portion of market is (not helping is a lack of a “markets sold” list.)

Six states without state lotteries – Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, and Utah are not in the game, so Millionaires Club won’t air in Birmingham, Mobile, Salt Lake City, Jackson, Tupelo, and Las Vegas, naturally. In fact, the show is taping in Las Vegas but won’t be shown on TV in the market.

The program is hosted by Billy Gardell of Mike & Molly fame.

This is not the first time a Monopoly-based show has aired. In 1990, ABC tried a prime-time version of the famous board game, hosted by Mike Reilly. The deal came after King World failed to sell a daily version of the show with the late Peter Tomarken as host. Merv Griffin Productions (Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy!) produced the show.